New movement threatens mines Oct 15 2012 6:58AM
A radical new grouping threatening to bring South Africa’s mining sector to a halt has emerged.
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), which has been addressing striking mineworkers in Rustenburg, says it will coordinate a march to the Union Buildings next month to demand a minimum wage of R12500 for miners. It says its long-term goal is to have the country’s mines nationalised.
The DSM is not linked to Julius Malema, who has also been calling for the nationalisation of the mines. The DSM has distanced itself from the expelled ANC Youth League former leader’s nationalisation dream, which it says is aimed at advancing the ambitions of aspirant black capital in the country, rather than creating a more equal society.
The DSM is a splinter group that broke away from the ANC in 1996 after the ruling party adopted what it calls “neo-liberal policies”.
Mametlwe Sebei, spokesperson for the Marxist orientated movement, says: “We are calling for the nationalisation of mines under the control of and management by workers.”
He said a meeting of “strike committees” at all mines had agreed to intensify the industrial action. They will attempt to shut down mines that are still operating, Sebei says.
The movement has formulated “strike committees” in all shafts in an effort “to maximise the fighting capacity of workers”.
“In the Rustenburg area we have a coordinated structure with worker representatives from Lonmin, Impala and Anglo American Platinum mines. We also have a structure in the Carletonville area,” Sebei says.
The wildcat strike at Lonmin spread to gold, coal and other sectors of the economy.
The unrest in the mining sector had led to ratings agency Standard and Poor’s downgrading the country’s credit rating by one notch on Friday.
They were following in the tracks of Moody’s, which slashed the country’s credit rating last month. • The negotiations at the Chamber of Mines will continue today, with unions expected to state whether they accept the chamber’s proposals that include entry level wages and allowances for the mining sector.
The chamber’s spokesperson, Vusi Mabena, said: “The unions requested an extension so that they could consult thoroughly with their members.
“Today we hope to hear what the verdict is.”
Meanwhile, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has asked the presidency to extend the terms of reference judicial commission of inquiry into the Marikana massacre to include violence at Impala Platinum (Implats).
NUM general secretary Frans Baleni has made the plea to the presidency and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to extend the commission’s mandate to include the violence which accompanied an unprotected strike at Implats in February, where 17000 workers were fired. They were re-employed after a wage settlement reached, that saw some workers getting 18% wage increases.
The terms of reference for the commission, chaired by retired Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Ian Farlam, is probing whether Lonmin platinum mine did enough to resolve the labour dispute which saw 34 workers shot and killed by the police in Marikana on August 16.
The Farlam Commission will also investigate police action and the roles played by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and the NUM in resolving the impasse. – Additional reporting by Sapa.